This is what Adam Frost and Monty Don had to say about this RHS Chelsea show garden...

chelsea flower show 2024 show garden national garden scheme garden designed by tom stuartsmith
RHS Chelsea 2024: National Garden Scheme GardenRHS/Neil Hepworth

The National Garden Scheme Garden designed by eight-time RHS gold medal winner, Tom Stuart-Smith, made quite an impact even before Chelsea Flower Show 2024 officially opened to the public, winning the praise of Gardeners' World stars Monty Don and Adam Frost. And the praise was well-deserved as the garden was given a gold medal by the judges.

On BBC One's RHS Chelsea Flower Show preview episode (Sunday 19th May), Adam and co-host Sophie Raworth visited the garden, where Sophie called it ‘absolutely magical’ while commending its ‘clever simplicity’.

Adam was equally full of praise: ‘I walked in, and being honest, I got goosebumps. The atmosphere is incredible, it’s calm.' Touring the hut towards the rear of the garden which features a sink, cooker, fitted furniture and old tools on the wall, Adam continued: 'The craftsmanship is exquisite. I'm staying here all week.'

chelsea flower show 2024 show garden national garden scheme garden designed by tom stuartsmith
RHS/Neil Hepworth

A highlight for Adam was seeing saruma, a shade-loving herbaceous perennial, within the planting scheme. 'I’ve never seen it at the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s related to ginger. You get that lovely yellow flower and that foliage, that is a cracker,' he said.

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saruma plant
The saruma plant in TomBBC

The planting of hazel, a deciduous tree, also made quite an impact. ‘The hazel, they make you feel comfortable but they’re brought down into the garden by the rhododendrons, then they create this rhythm that leads the eye, and then you get down to this sort of herbaceous, which is just elegant,' Adam continued. 'Even when you look at the materials, it’s just brick and it’s stone and it’s timber. And then textures, finishes, forms – it’s just this sort of calmness of the pale colours and the confidence to work with green.'

Later, asked to give his first impressions on this year's gardens, Monty said: ‘I've had a quick whizz round, and I always try to look without making judgements, just to take it in. And first impressions are lots of lovely trees, which is great. But one tree has totally sort of blown me away and it’s a simple hazel. It’s on the National Garden Scheme Garden, Tom Stuart-Smith, it's beautiful, beautiful.'

The National Garden Scheme Garden: key details

What is the garden about?

With an ‘edge of woodland’ theme and appearance, the garden exemplifies the joy and associated health and wellbeing benefits of garden visiting that have been at the heart of the National Garden Scheme since 1927.

'The National Garden Scheme is a wonderfully unique charity, and I am proud to have opened my own garden in aid of it for nearly 30 years,' said Tom, who last designed a Show Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2010. 'It’s a very special honour for me to be helping bring the National Garden Scheme to an even wider audience through this new garden, that has been made possible with Project Giving Back support.'

chelsea flower show 2024 show garden national garden scheme garden designed by tom stuartsmith
RHS/Neil Hepworth

What are the key elements of this garden design?

Central to the garden design is a carbon sink timber hut where visitors and garden volunteers can gather for tea and cake, synonymous with a National Garden Scheme garden open day. A key sustainability feature, rainwater is collected from the timber hut and all hard surfaces drain into the plant beds.

The planting palette has been selected to cope with clay soil prone to drying out, reflective of the current climatic conditions. And wonderfully, a portion of the plants have been donated by National Garden Scheme garden owners. The garden is cement-free and features paving made of bricks from local Hertfordshire clay, while the other paving is reclaimed York stone.

chelsea flower show 2024 show garden national garden scheme garden designed by tom stuartsmith
RHS/Neil Hepworth

Where will the garden relocate to?

Following the show, it will be relocated to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where it will become the garden of a new Maggie’s Centre for people undergoing cancer treatment.

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